Most years I intentionally stay out of stores on Thanksgiving and Black Friday.
This year, however, my wife and I were asked to pick up a package of mini-marshmallows on the way to Thanksgiving dinner. Apparently they’d been overlooked in the holiday meal prep, and you can’t have sweet potatoes with marshmallows without….well….marshmallows.
That meant a trip to WalMart.
It was around 11:00 am as we walked through the Wal-Mart aisles, and it was busy. Busy beyond reasonable expectation in the middle of a day where people are normally sitting down to a mid-day meal with their families. And sure, there were some people shopping for clothes, presents, and the like, but there was one section of the store that was overrun:
From the front to the back, there were people walking the grocery aisles grabbing stuffing, cranberry sauce, cans of sweet potatoes, meat, and all the fixings that you’d expect for a Thanksgiving dinner – at 11:00 am on Thanksgiving. Some of them even had recipe cards and were debating how the recipes were supposed to be prepared.
I realize there are potentially valid explanations for this. It’s possible that these people weren’t able to shop earlier. It’s possible that their financial situation somehow meant they couldn’t purchase their food ahead of time.
But as we walked through the store, it was hard to ignore the other possibility – that a lot of this crowd was there because they just didn’t plan ahead.
Not planning ahead, in this case, means that there’s greater potential for plans to be thwarted by items that are out of stock, can’t be prepared in the time allotted, etc. Buying a good-sized turkey at 11:00 am guarantees that it’ll go in the oven frozen, and that pretty much guarantees that it’ll barely be on the table by 6:00 pm.
And isn’t there already enough stress on Thanksgiving without having to cram all the cooking in at the last minute?
If you’re one of the people who get caught off guard by all the hassle of Thanksgiving, give me fifteen minutes and I’ll give you a better “next year”. Ready?
All You Need To Know For A Better “Next Year”….
Thanksgiving is on the fourth Thursday of November next year. And the year after that. And the year after that. It’s a scheduled event, and can be planned for. It doesn’t suddenly fall out of a clear sky in late November and take us by surprise.
This is fortunate for us, because it affords us the luxury of being able to anticipate it and be ready! A bit of planning in late October can head off a lot of the problems and glitches associated with Thanksgiving dinner.
No, planning isn’t perfect. Yes, plans change. Yes, things can still go wrong – even if you plan. But our plans give us a base to work from. And the more planning we’ve done in the past, the more experience we’ll have. The more experience we have, the more “rooted” we’ll be. And the more “rooted” we are, the better we’ll be at dealing with the occasional glitch.
The problem is, planning is an acquired skill – and if you’re not great at it, it can be overwhelming. Here’s how you get started….ready?
Just look back at your Thanksgiving dinner, and answer three questions:
- What went right?
- What went wrong?
- What are a few things that can be done to encourage the good and eliminate the bad next year?
While it’s fresh in your memory, jot down answers to those questions.
Maybe you need to eliminate the last-minute shopping. Maybe you need to remember how long you boiled the potatoes. Maybe nobody ate the green bean casserole. Whatever it is, write it down. Make notes. Email them to yourself, jot them in the front of your cookbook, whatever you have to do – and review them next October.
That’s all you need to make next year even better. I promise!
And if any of you have any great tips (either “do this” or “don’t do that”) for Thanksgiving dinner, I’d love to hear them in the comments!
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